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Pruning small trees is a perfectly manageable DIY project. You’ll need a sharp pruning tool and the ability to eyeball the cutting spot, which is near the branch collar. Don’t cut the branch collar itself. Keep any branches growing at a 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock angle from the trunk. Make sure you don’t remove more than 25% of a tree’s canopy, as this can threaten its health. Nor should you cut the top off of a tree. And don’t try to prune large trees or heavy branches. Reserve those jobs for landscaping professionals.

Key Takeaways:

  • Don’t try to prune a tree yourself if you have to use a ladder or get too close to power lines — the safety risk isn’t worth it.
  • Try not to cut directly on the branch collar, which is where the trunk and the branch intersect.
  • Focus on pruning dead branches, water sprouts and branches emanating from the roots or base of the tree.

“Large pruning jobs should absolutely be left to a professional, but trimming small branches and trees is perfectly manageable. Yes, you can learn how to prune a small tree all on your own!”

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